Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sidney Bechet: May 14, 1897 - May 14, 1959

I was in high school when I first heard soprano saxophonist/clarinetist Sidney Bechet on the local radio station. Back then (the mid-70s), the Los Angeles Jazz Station, KBCA 105.1 used to feature a traditional jazz program on Sunday afternoons. It was called "Strictly From Dixie" and was hosted by Benson Curtis. The great thing about his show was he told you background information about the recordings and the players. (Now, it seems like you don't even get the names of the sidemen.) Although Bechet's wide vibrato takes some getting used to, his inventive and powerful improvisations don't.
(Many of the Bechet songs that I recorded off the radio years ago were recently reissued on CD by Mosaic.)
Sidney Bechet was born on May 14, 1897 in New Orleans. He died on May 14, 1959 in France, 50 years ago today.

This video of Bechet features Teddy Buckner on trumpet. For many years, Buckner led the trad jazz band that played at Disneyland's New Orleans Square. Every time we'd go, it was always fun to listen to his group. (Also, the drummer on this is Roy Eldridge, usually heard on trumpet. He was definitely no slouch on la batterie, either!)

1 comment:

Les Carries said...

I practically grew up on Strictly From Dixie. Loved that show, and loved the version of Panama that he kicked off with. It seems to me, though, that it was on from 3-5p.m. on one or more weekdays for a long while. I was shocked and saddened one day to hear a clearly angry Benson Curtis announce that it was the last show as the station had kicked him off the air. That was the end of a very special bit of radio. I wonder if anyone has tapes of it anywhere, because there was a whole lot of history and background about Dixieland music and musicians.